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Once has a different meaing in these two, doesn't it?
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Okay, so how should

I once saw him

be corrected to sound natural, with minimum necessary modification?
iasadihOkay, so how shouldI once saw himbe corrected to sound natural, with minimum necessary modification?
I saw him once.
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Does this once have double meaning, that is both one time and - as CalifJim put it - once upon a time?
iasadihLet me make my point more clearly, then.If a sentence I once saw him at a party is acceptable, then without at a party, it should be considered okay as well.
On the contrary. I put the book on the desk is acceptable while I put is incomplete. In general, parts of sentences are not acceptable just because the corresponding full sentence is acceptable. The case in question here is more subtle, but this same principle applies.

'There is a vase' is analogous, in my view of your question, to 'I once saw him'.

'There is a vase on the table' is then analogous to 'I once saw him at a party'.

In the first case the expression merely establishes the existence of an entity (vase, him), but says nothing about its relation to anything else. In the second case the expression establishes the existence of that entity in a place (table) or situation (party). Therefore the second versions are complete in comparison to the first ones.

CJ
From the studies, I remember such a statement that even the most clumsy sentence structure may make sense in some specific context. Still, considering what you have written, I can't come up with a context where I once saw him (with once being once upon a time ) making sense. What would it be?

But since the thread was originally meant to discuss the distinction between Past and Present Perfect and the resulting change of meaning of the featuring word once, here's my probably last ditch effort to find maximum uniformity between the sentences in order to expose the difference:

I have seen him once at a party (one time).
vs
I once saw him at a party (once upon a time).

Is everything okay with these two sentences?
Can once be interpreted as in brackets?
How to explain this phenomenon to someone who thinks that the Tense change results here from the change of meaning of once?
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iasadih here's my probably last ditch effort to find maximum uniformity between the sentences in order to expose the difference:I have seen him once at a party (one time).
One problem is that this sentence in isolation is not very natural. It works in a sentence such as, "I have seen him once at a party and twice at a disco".
iasadihI once saw him at a party (once upon a time).
That's possible; it's highly unlikely that 'once' could be interpreted as 'one time'.
I'd probably put 'once' after 'him' or after 'party'; these positions would make the 'one time' interpretation less unlikely, though this would normally need more context
I acknowledge that such a sentence

I have seen him once at a party.

may look bare, but then who is he?

To complement such a sentence, it should be sufficient to presume a question it may answer:

-Are you and Jack well acquainted?
-I have seen him once at a party.

What do you think?

I wonder what external context could be provided to justify the sentence:

I once saw him at a party.

I am starting to understand that it might be a more difficult task.
iasadihDoes this once have double meaning, that is both one time and - as CalifJim put it - once upon a time?
No. The meaning to me is clear. "Once upon a time" is for fables and stories. This is an actual event.
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iasadihI have seen him once at a party (one time).vsI once saw him at a party (once upon a time).
Once upon a time... is setting a context for a story set in the past. It is a set phrase for children's stories.
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